Questions and Answers
Why participate in a Voluntary Pension Fund?
As individuals reach retirement age, income (savings) will decline, so they need to provide their own means of financial stability and security after retirement, which enables them to maintain the standard of living. The state pension is not enough and the scheme with which it operates is always deteriorating, so it is important to save today, in order to have your savings at the time of retirement.
How does a Voluntary Pension Fund work?
To become part of the Albsig Pension Fund, a membership contract must be signed. The amount of pension benefits received in the future will depend on the amount of contributions, the rate of return earned from the investment of contributions, the investment period and the duration of future pension payments. The minimum contribution amount for is 1,000 ALL. The Voluntary Pension Fund is divided into two schemes: the Professional Scheme ( where the company contributes for the individual and the individual as well) and the Individual Scheme(where only the individual contributes). Depository Bank is Tirana Bank. The Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) oversees the activities of the Management Company, the Fund and the Depositary.
How “secure” are investments?
- Most of the portfolio is invested in long term government bonds of Albania, hence it is strongly connected with the financial strength of the Republic of Albania. Traditionally government bonds are the safest asset class in the capital markets.
- The assets of the fund are kept safe in the AFISAR register kept by the Central Bank of Albania with a secondary bank as custody. All access and operations with these securities is done by the depositary bank. The depositary bank is responsible to ensure that the assets will not be used except according to the investment policy stated in the Prospectus.
- The depositary bank has to report to FSA every day about the value of the net asset value of the fund and is strongly involved in monitoring pension funds.
- The assets of the fund are separated from the asset of the management company and from the assets of the depositary. This rule makes the assets of the fund “untouchable” by the management company or depositary for other purposes besides the investment policy.
- There is an existing, well defined regulatory infrastructure to support pension funds composed of a dedicated law of pension funds and related bylaws, a regulatory authority, FSA monitoring both management company and depositary bank, and the Bank of Albania monitoring the depositary bank and administering the register of Albanian government bond securities.
Why a pension fund and not a bank?
By its very name it is aPension Fund and it cannot be used for other purposes. You can withdraw the amount deposited: a) 5 years before retirement age; b) during retirement age; and c) in case of permanent loss of ability to work. Normally, the money can be withdrawn even earlier, but against the penalties defined in the law that apply to each Pension Fund in Albania. It also offers the possibility to deposit small amounts below the required minimum of deposits, bills, bonds and the possibility of making payments automatically every month.
If I can’t reach retirement age, what will happen to my account?
Any account to a a Pension Fund is hereditary and transferable. The assets in the account will be distributed to the heirs in accordance with the legal provisions governing inheritance.
The transfer of assets to the new Fund must be completed no later than after 10 working days, as the management company of the previous Pension Fund has received notification from the member. The individual must have repaid all obligations to the previous Fund.
How transparent will it be?
The unit price and net asset value are published daily on the official website of the Administrative Company (www.albsiginvest.al). Each member will have an account (user anme and password) that he can use at any time to view data on contributions paid, unit price, total net worth, and any other important information.
What is the difference between your Company and other Companies offering this product in the market?
The administration fee of the Albsig Pension Fund will be withheld from the Fund’s assets. It will be 2.5% per annum of the net asset value of the Fund which is among the lowest on the market. Professional investment management and high integrity is a feature that sets us apart.
How can I withdraw my money when I meet the legal requirements?
The forms of withdrawing money are:
- Lump sum;
- Periodic installments;
- Combination of the 2 (two) ways above.
Can we withdraw at any time and you mentioned penalties in case of early withdrawal. What are they?
You can withdraw at any time, according to the conditions provided by law, penalties in case of early withdrawal are:
- 2%, for any early withdrawal made after 20 years from the date of the first contribution;
- 5%, for each early withdrawal made in the period of time beginning after 10 years from the date of the first contribution up to 20 years from the date of the first contribution, including the 20th year;
- 10%, for each early withdrawal made in the time period starting after 5 years from the date of the first contribution to 10 years from the date of the first contribution, including the 10th year;
- 15%, for each early withdrawal made in the time period up to 5 years from the date of the first contribution including the 5th year;
The imposition of penalties for early withdrawals is intended to discourage investors from withdrawing from Pension Funds in order to incur unnecessary expenses.
When is the membership agreement in the Fund terminated?
The member acquires the right to withdraw and use the accumulated assets:
- When a member dies before retirement age;
- When the member’s account is fully transferred to another Fund (after paying all obligations).
What are the benefits for the Employer?
The contributions made by the employer in the interest of his employees are estimated as operating expenses, up to the annual amount for each employee, equal to 250,000 ALL and this amount is estimated as deductible expenses, for the purposes of the employer’s profit tax;
Also through this scheme the employer will have:
- Reduction of employees “turnover” ;
- More motivated and productive employees.
What benefits does the individual have?
- The contribution made by each member of a pension fund is deducted from his personal income, for the purpose of personal income tax effect;
- The maximum limit for tax benefits for annual contributions is the smallest value resulting from the comparison of the amount of ALL 200,000 and 15% of the gross annual income of the member;
- In case the member is over 50 years old, the maximum limit for tax purposes for annual contributions is the smallest value resulting from the comparison of the amount of 250,000 ALL and 25% of the gross annual income of the member.